Rural Symbolism: T. F. Powys

  • Glen Cavaliero


If Henry Williamson is an example of a novelist esteemed by a large body of educated readers but ignored by critics, T. F. Powys (1875–1953) is a clear instance of the opposite. He shares with Mary Webb the doubtful distinction of being one of the targets of Cold Comfort Farm; and, indeed, the kind of bucolic world which he created was to have many, not necessarily satirical, successors, the most notable of these being Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood (1954). But in Powys’s case the attribution is more of a compliment than a slight. Far from being a formally ‘realistic’ writer, he is, in his handling of rural material, deliberately mannered, even to distortion. Those who mock his work have failed to see the point: like his brother John Cowper Powys (in this if in nothing else) he had a predominantly ironic vision; and also like his brother he produced work that was eccentric to contemporary taste. That eccentricity has denied him a wide public; but there is no other rural novelist who can match him for originality.


Early Book Village Life Real Desire Rural World Good Gift 
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  1. 2.
    For further details, see the Bibliography in H. Coombes, T. F. Powys (1960).Google Scholar
  2. 36.
    Louis Marlow, Seven Friends (1953), p. 98.Google Scholar
  3. 47.
    At least one other mature novel by Powys exists in manuscript. It is called ‘The Market Bell’, and from internal evidence would seem to have been written at the same time as Mockery Gap and Innocent Birds. See J. A. Boulton, ‘A Note on T. F. Powys’, in Delta, a Literary Review, no. 52 (1974).Google Scholar

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© Glen Cavaliero 1977

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  • Glen Cavaliero

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